I started this blog to give myself the freedom to write about whatever I wish, but despite the precedent I’ve set so far, that’s not always going to be about anime or music. Of course, I’d like to stay somewhat focused on those topics, because that’s what most people who find their way here are probably going to be into. Once in a while, however, I’ll probably feel compelled to opine on some unrelated matter, as I’m about to do in this post.
I only caught a few minutes of the Super Bowl this week, mostly during the fourth quarter, so I missed most of what were probably the highest profile commercials that people continue to sincerely mention as “the only reason to watch the game” and apparently await with great anticipation. What I did catch during the game (and later during the news… yes, local broadcasts replayed several of these in their entirety, devoting feature-length stories to them) was a pitiful collection that speaks volumes about American culture in 2010: obnoxious, shrill, more “in-your-face” than ever, and proud of its reality-denying slogans.
The worst of the bunch I saw was the spot for Audi, which seems to be getting good word of mouth online, despite being a terribly confused effort, memorable for all the wrong reasons and, at least in terms of moving cars off the lots or enhancing the brand image, can’t possibly be considered a success.
One stupid joke, milked for a very expensive minute’s time, in which the product and the brand name do not appear in until the very end, by which time no one who’s still watching could be the least bit concerned. I’d seen the ad three times and still couldn’t remember what it was actually for without a Google search to help me out (unlike the ad for Google itself, which penetrates your very mind and soul in every single frame). Instead, I was left only thinking of the the original “Dream Police” song by Cheap Trick, remembering the episode of The Simpsons where Apu is singing the song while washing his Thunderbird (er, Firebird?) in his driveway, and wondering if the band themselves were actually performing this horrible new mutation of it (sources say they indeed are). So much for getting your message across. And yes, I realize that simply discussing the ad at all is only furthering its saturation of/penetration into the Internet, and that going viral is considered the top honor that producers for these things are always shooting for, so I realize I’m contributing to the problem as much as anyone who Tweeted a genuine LOL in this commercial’s direction.
But something else bothers me about it and I think it’s worth bringing up. The ad attempts to highlight the Audi A3’s fuel efficiency, and as such would seem to be aimed at the environmentally-conscious consumer in the market for a pricey but still economic sedan. Yet, the ad obnoxiously belittles the entire notion of environmentalism, casting the eco-minded “Green Police” as fascist thugs that play up to every right-wing fantasy of violent tree-huggers. Could anyone outside of the SUV-driving, “drill here, drill now” crowd (who aren’t buying Audis anyway) find this the least bit funny? What is this ad trying to say? Some of us really care about these issues, you know. Maybe they’re ideas worth taking seriously, effecting the world in real time, no longer in any abstract, distant “future” that we won’t have to deal with. Or maybe they’re just meaningless fodder to distort and take down in ambiguous, sarcasm-drenched ad campaigns. Who knows! Maybe I just missed the memo saying that it’s okay for companies to belittle the deep convictions of their target market.
Defenders of the commercial would likely tell me to lighten up, it’s only a joke, after all. Or so it is to some, while to others it may be a telling and subversive, OMG it’s so true! commentary on the dangerous “socialist” direction our country is headed in. Being more energy independent, transitioning to more fuel-efficient vehicles, and just being better stewards of the environment are goals and values that everyone in this country should agree on regardless of ideology. But we live in a polarized, reactionary, bitter nation that somehow finds a way to disagree over the most banal issues imaginable, even when they’re as unpolitical as going “green,” which has fast become a trite notion that average consumers are growing sick and tired of hearing about. Like many great opportunities we’ve had as a country in recent years, we squandered the momentum behind the green movement and turned it into a meaningless catchphrase used for energy we rarely access, jobs we’ll likely never see, and products that are anything but. A lot of us realize how important it is to preserve and protect the environment, to make responsible everyday choices for the greater good and to continue working towards the kind of change that will bring society as a whole into a better balance with the planet. I just have a hard time making light of this, let alone a snarky mockery of it like this commercial does.
What I’m trying to say is, what a colossally misguided parody this ad is. I’m sure that Family Guy fans will enjoy how Audi really stuck it to those hybrid-driving crazies, though. Insert your own global warming joke here. Caring about things is so 20th century.
Now back to more of the usual entries. Probably about cartoons and shit.